Translating Time: Modelling The (Re)Processing of Emerging Meaning

By: Kobus Marais


Volume: 06
Issue: 01:2020
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2020.0006
Pages: 109-131
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
process ontology
diagrammatical reasoning
modeling translation



The choice between substance ontology and process ontology has been haunting our thinking since, at least, Ancient Greek philosophy. The assumption seems that things are the way they are and that one has to put work into changing them. Constancy or substance, in this view, is primary and change (or process) secondary. In translation studies, this plays out in the source text as the stable starting point that has to be transformed into a target text. Based on Peirce’s process semiotics and other process thinkers, I inverse the above argument, arguing that change or process is primary and constancy or substance secondary. Because the universe is subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is a process taking form rather than a form changing. Any text is a process that has been constrained materially to be relatively stable, but the stability is not original; it is the effect of semiotic work, translation. My interest is in the semiotic work done to constrain the semiotic process into some form of stability and how one can get to know or understand these constraints. Part of this paper explores some of the implications of process thinking for translation studies. However, this reversal of ground and figure also challenges the modeling of translation. If translation is a process, how do we model it in a static medium such as print? Therefore, I explore the affordances that new computational technology offers for translating static models into dynamic ones.


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